Washington, Mt. Rainier. On 15 July the Louden family, Melvin Louden (27), Phyllis Louden (26), Mark Louden (6), Kelly Louden (5), and Karen Louden (4) were returning from a walk to the Paradise Ice Caves (approximately 2 1/2 miles from Paradise Ranger Station) when they decided to take a short cut down a snowfield to the Paradise Valley Road. The father and son were in the lead and were the first to lose control and fall over a cascade (small stream). The father immediately carried the boy back to the trail where he was evacuated to the hospital by park rangers. A search was immediately started for the mother and daughters. It was not known how far behind they might be. The search continued through the night and next day inside the park and attempts were made to locate them outside the park as well. The mother and one daughter were found at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16. The other daughter was found at 11:30 a.m., July 17. They had apparently fallen over the same cascade and slid into the mouth of the snow cave. The cave was long and narrow and had several chambers. All were located between 40 and 100 feet from the small opening.
Source: Paul Haertel.
Analysis: The judgment of the parents in leaving the trail and attempting a short cut over snow and a drainage unknown to them was very poor indeed and was the cause of this tragedy.